What do you get when you combine French electro pop, performance art, burning furniture and a Mexican donkey jawbone? A festival that is one of a kind. Welcome to WOMADelaide 2019 – an annual event which Double J has called “without doubt one of the most important cultural festivals in Australia.”
This award-winning festival, being staged from Friday 8 – Monday 11 March in Adelaide’s Botanic Park, is a celebration of the very best of the world of music, arts and dance.
Long before the current explosion of festivals, WOMADelaide was already blowing the minds of audiences – and today, some 27 years later the event has maintained its reputation for showcasing edgy, new performances.
In 2019, the iconic festival will play host to more than 70 Australian and international groups from more than 35 countries. While the event will once again feature bands, DJs, dance companies and site artists – as well as Planet Talks speakers and local KidZone artists – no two WOMADelaide festivals are ever the same.
Eighteen of the international artists coming this year are performing exclusively at WOMADelaide. “We strive to choose performers who may be well-known overseas but have never been to Australia,” said Stage and Screen client and WOMADelaide Program Manager, Annette Tripodi.
The complexity and diversity of the performers on stage is reflected in the complexity of the travel arrangements behind the scenes. With more than 750 individual artists and speakers involved in the festival – several hundred of whom are flying from cities such as Belem in Brazil and Mumbai in India - Stage and Screen has its work cut out. Arranging accommodation for the larger groups and air travel for each artist, all on different schedules, is a juggling act in itself.
The largest international arrival is the 21 strong Taiwu Ancient Ballads Troupe, a children’s choir from Taiwan. While domestically a group of 42 indigenous women, from seven different remote communities, are flying in from Alice Springs. Other artists hail from Lithuania, Spain, India, Italy, Europe, Mali, Mauritius, the USA and the first ever performer from Morocco.
Beyond the hundreds of flights that need to be booked, is the logistics of mountains of luggage including priceless instruments and even a donkey jawbone which is used as a percussion instrument by a Mexican performance group. (Try explaining that one to customs!) However Stage and Screen’s strong relationship with Emirates has resulted in the flexibility of a higher baggage allowance for performers.
Fortunately Stage and Screen Travel Manager, Marc Peacock is a WOMADelaide veteran who can oversee up to 100 performers checking in for a single flight without raising a sweat. As one festival winds up, artists travel en masse to WOMAD New Zealand to do it all again.
“We’ve been working with Stage and Screen for so many years now, they understand how we operate and the demands of putting a festival of this scale together,” said Annette Tripodi. “And importantly, we have had the consistency of working with the same travel managers from year to year, building up a great working relationship – so we really do speak the same language.”
This year’s not to be missed performances
• Angelique Kidjo – puts her unique West African spin on the songs from Talking Head’s classic 1980 album Remain In Light.
• Australian debut of French electro pop band Christine and the Queens – a show of artistry, music and dance.
• Evening headline acts – John Butler Trio and Fat Freddy’s Drop.
• The Original Gypies – three original members of the legendary Gypsy Kings reunited after more than 20 years, with a line-up including eight exceptional guitarists.
• French artist Olivier Grossetête invites the audience to join him in building Ephemeral City, a gravity-defying structure of recycled cardboard.
• Artonik’s The Colour of Time – inspired by Indian colour festivals, where audiences can participate, learn to dance and join in.
• Compagnie Bilbobasso from France performing ‘Amor’ – a musical satire about marriage, culminating in a couple setting everything in their home alight.
Tickets are still available for both events with a range of types and price ranges and children under 12 are free.
8-11 March, Botanic Park, Adelaide, Australia
WOMAD New Zealand 2019
15-17 March, Brooklands Park, New Plymouth, NZ